How real is your perfume?

How real is your perfume?

Original perfume is usually packaged in neat cellophane as if it were handled by the gods themselves.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Shopping for perfume is tricky. How do you know the one you have isn’t an expensive knock-off? It smells good, and you like the smell, but is it the real deal? How can you really tell, especially if you are buying it from someone or someplace you trust?

There are a few indicators, but you have to care enough to find them. Counterfeits have really improved over the years and it is not that easy to spot one. They don’t come with fake names in look-alike bottles like J’adore reading J’abore. Counterfeiters have grown smarter. But there are still ways to tell.

1. Original perfume is usually packaged in neat cellophane as if it were handled by the gods themselves. There is no puckering or gathering around the box. Fake packaging shows you signs of glue, or the packaging is uneven on some parts of the box. The packaging also holds some secrets. Inside the box should be high quality cardboard that ensures the perfume is nestled and ensconced safely so any bumps coming its way would not be felt to a high degree. How will you know about the packaging without buying? The finishing of the box and the surrounding cardboard should be neat and cleanly cut, and symmetrical. It doesn’t look like it was trimmed by a naked hand wielding a pair of sharp scissors. For instance, a genuine Tom Ford Black Orchid perfume should come with a black cardboard insert, and not a beige or cardboard-coloured box. Evenness and symmetry are very telling when it comes to knowing the real deal.

2.  What is the location of the bar code? It should be at the bottom corner of the box and not the sides.

3. Look at the labels and inscription. This works best if you have a box to compare it with. But, you can also take a look at the writing. Is it sharp, symmetrical (yes, again), and is the ink spread out evenly along all the words? If it looks like the ink was melting into the paper, give it a pass.

4.  Look at the bottle. Is it smooth, symmetrical, does the cap go on smoothly, is it straight, sharp and aligned across? A fake bottle could have bubbles in it. And, if the bottle is meant to have sequins on it, such as Black Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, then the embellishments are spread evenly throughout the bottle, they don’t come off like glitter when you rub the bottle.

5. When you want to look at the genuine sticker at the bottom, you have to flip the bottom front to back to properly read the label.

6.  Every perfume bottle has a serial number at the bottom. You can type that number online and confirm if it is the real deal. Unfortunately, fakes have this serial number too, and just typing in the number on its own will not tell you much. You will think that because it popped up on a legit site, it is real. This is why you need to look at the details carefully. It is unlikely that this will be the case, but look for typos, grammatical errors and lopsided writing. However, I must warn you that counterfeits are becoming exceedingly difficult to weed out. I have seen a fake bottle of perfume branded as “original” while the real perfume had no such branding.

7.  Know your seller. It is best to go to a fragrance store or a beauty store that specialises in perfume. Yes, they are crazy expensive, but the odds will be in your favour. You will likely find the right packaging, they will allow you to test it, and your buying experience can be as informed as you please. If you are buying it online, then ask questions or have the vendor take pictures of various parts of the bottle and packaging and send them to you.

8. This is the most critical one of them all. Investigate the product before you buy it. Go to Amazon or Fragrantica and read the reviews on the product. Of course, they might sway you either way, but this is where you find out what the perfume should smell like before testing it. And while you are at it, look for YouTube videos that describe and demonstrate the difference between the fake thing and the real thing. One other thing your research could do would be to offer you dupes. There is this perfume that is very popular, and it is called Baccarat Rouge 540 Maison Francis Kurkdijan. It will set you back a cool Sh70,000. But if you wanted something more affordable, you could get Arianna Grande’s Cloud. These are things you will only find out if you put your back into it.

9. Know the colour of your perfume. Not all original perfumes are clear. If you have a plain sheet of white paper and place the bottle on it, you should be able to see the colour. It is rare for the fake perfume to match the colour of the real deal. Which is why you need to become a fan of the perfume before buying it. You will know the colour it should be.

10.  If you shake your bottle of perfume, the bubbles in the real bottle should disappear within 15 to 20 seconds.

11. Look at the price. Of course, if someone really wanted to rip you off, they could sell you fake perfume for the price of a real one. But, usually, if you find designer perfume to be more affordable than you expected, it helps to ask yourself why.

12.  Now you are ready to go and test the perfume.

Why do I insist on perfect symmetry? A lot of money goes into making designer perfume.

Every single detail is well thought-out. Imagine a nose from France building this just for you.

Think like him or her. Would their reputation allow them to package this piece of art randomly? Would they not take their time to make sure every molecule of this fragrance works? Would they let it go out as anything less than stellar? I thought so too.